Dial-a-pharmacist? Can you say 1-800 good luck?

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05/31/2011

An indy pharmacy in Vermont has been sold. The new owner, Kinney Drugs, plans to operate it as a "remote" pharmacy. What's that, you ask?

There won't actually be a pharmacist on-hand. A pharmacy tech will fill the scripts using a computer link with a pharmacist. Got a question for the pharmacist? You'll have to dial an 800 number: If you'd like to speak with a pharmacist, press 1.

How cold and impersonal can you get? (Disclaimer: I use CVS and have no idea who the pharmacist is, nor do I ever have any questions). But, time and again, I report on how pharmacists can provide a useful, cost-effective link in the health care chain. Time and again, polls show that pharmacists are a well-respected, well-trusted bunch. This sounds like it reduces them to, say, a customer service rep taking orders for bean boots at LL Bean.

I think pharmacists deserve better than this. I also think patients deserve better. Last week, I picked up a 3-month supply of syringes. It was only after I'd gotten home that I realized the doctor's office had written the new prescription wrong, that I had the wrong size. Because it was sent via the doctor's new electronic system, I never saw the prescription (had I, I would have been able to get it corrected). Which just goes to show, there are still limits with technology.

Fortunately, I was able to easily return the unopened boxes for a refund. Not sure that would have been easy--or possible--to do with 1-800 disembodied phone pharmacist.

What's next?

Theresa Flaherty